By Tess Goldblatt
Scott Barlow, executive director of the Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy (HRCJTA), says he tries to avoid parties because he is an extreme introvert in social settings. However, in the comfort of his office space, Barlow says even his closest friends would be surprised to learn that he was recently inducted into the Virginia Wesleyan University Athletic Hall of Fame for his tennis accomplishments.
Barlow tells that he was an avid tennis player since he was 13 years old. Decades of passion for tennis and running took physical and surgical tolls that ultimately brought Barlow to his current position. When he could no longer serve in active policing, he found advanced career opportunities at the HRCJTA, where he had been a student in 1985 and an instructor since 1988. “It was very frustrating not to be able to do what you love to do,” Barlow says. “Life happens, but I was in the right place at the right time. I was very lucky to find a nice graceful exit and still be affiliated with something I love… but can’t do it anymore.”
Speaking of parties, Barlow tells his wife, Rebecca Langwost-Barlow, not to wander off and leave him to fend for himself in those kinds of social settings. “She’s a professional equestrian who trains horses and their riders in dressage. We own a horse farm on the Eastern Shore,” he says.
When Barlow is not fixing things the horses broke — or mowing those 70 acres, he loves walking his dog and motorcycling with his wife. They have two children, three grandchildren and a wire-haired dachshund named Hanni. Barlow also loves to read authors John D. MacDonald and James Michener. Barlow authored the book Guardians of Necessity: The Ultimate Human Right + Obligation.
The office-based, non-party setting conversation continues, and a possible theme of Barlow’s life emerges. “I preferred individual sports because I wanted to be in control of my own destiny,” he says. Barlow left the Navy when he learned his eyesight would prevent him from continuing as an aviation officer candidate. “I wanted to be the driver, not a radar intercept officer,” he says. Barlow thinks about the suggestion that he seems to want to be in control of his destiny in several ways and muses, “possibly even to a fault.”
Not to a fault but comfortably erudite, Barlow talks about his work as a scholar would. He carries a master’s degree in public administration and leadership from Christopher Newport University. Applying the Obama administration’s 21st Century policing guidance, HRCJTA increased its curricular focus on training de-escalation skills and procedural justice. “The public has less stomach for police use of force. Even though it might be a legal use of force, that doesn’t mean the officer can’t choose better alternatives,” Barlow says. He explains that problem-solving skills are taught to young officers whose judgment, based on experience, inherently needs time to mature.
Barlow admits to experiencing a lot of frustration when he had to stop playing tennis and stop running. The withdrawal was painful. But he draws the line when asked about anger. “If I start to feel angry about my body aches, I feel angry with myself for feeling angry. I’m 60 years old, and there are young service men and women who come back with injured bodies. You’ve got to put it in perspective,” he says.
When they are not traveling together to horse shows and when he’s not serving at “head of maintenance” at their horse farm, Barlow, Rebecca and Hanni enjoy walking the Grandview Nature Preserve in Hampton as well as other parks and trails in the mountains and at the Eastern Shore. Not just any walking. “I can still do brisk walks- very brisk walks,” Barlow adds. But he’d probably never tell you that at a party either.
TO THE POINT:
Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy
Address: 809 City Center Blvd., Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Scott Barlow, executive director
Business: Criminal justice training